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Posted on: July 9, 2020
Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Bloomington, IL
How Common Is Periodontal Disease?
Gingivitis is considered the earliest stage of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Bacterial plaque causes gum swelling and inflammation, causing the gums to have a puffy, reddish appearance. They are also more likely to bleed when flossing or brushing. Although gingivitis is considered a mild form of gum disease, it can quickly lead to periodontitis, an infection that leads to tooth loss if left untreated.
Gingivitis is more common than you might think. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 70% of adults older than 65 have periodontal disease. Gingivitis also affects almost half of people over 30, according to the report.
What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?
Gingivitis can be a tricky oral health problem because it’s common for people to have the disease without even being aware of it. Healthy gum tissue has a firm texture and is light pink in color. If you notice any deviation from this, you should contact us to schedule an appointment. These symptoms are warning signs of gum disease:
- Receding gums
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Gums that bleed while flossing or brushing
- Purple or dark red gums
- Development of spaces in between teeth
- Gums that are painful or tender when touched
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
What Causes Gingivitis?
Poor oral hygiene, which encourages the development of plaque, is the primary cause of gingivitis. Plaque is a sticky layer of film that develops on your teeth each day, and it’s mostly made of bacteria. Our mouths are normally full of bacteria, and when these bacteria interact with the sugars and starches found in many foods, plaque begins to form on the surfaces of your teeth. Plaque can be removed if you brush twice a day and floss at least once a day. However, it’s important to remain consistent in brushing and flossing every day because plaque continues to re-form quickly on teeth. Plaque quickly hardens into a substance called tartar if it’s not removed daily. Since it’s too hard of a substance to brush away, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
If tartar isn’t regularly removed, it can release toxins and bacteria that are very irritating to the gum tissue. You may notice some initial signs of gingivitis. Over time, gingivitis can progress to an advanced infection called periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss if not treated.
Who Is at Risk for Gum Disease?
In addition to having poor oral hygiene, there are many factors that contribute to the development of gingivitis. These include:
- Eating an unhealthy diet low in vitamin C and other nutrients
- A history of smoking or chewing tobacco
- Hormonal changes, including during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause
- Certain chronic illnesses, including leukemia and other types of cancer, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS
- Receiving chemotherapy or taking certain medications, including birth control pills, calcium channel blockers, and anticonvulsants
- Having dental appliances, such as bridges or dentures, that don’t fit properly
- Dry mouth
- Crooked teeth that make it difficult to brush and floss
- Being 65 and older
- Genetics, including a family history of gum disease
Can Gingivitis Affect Your Health in Other Ways?
The dangers of periodontal disease can affect more than just your teeth and gums. In fact, scientists have identified a link between numerous health problems and gum disease. Findings by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) suggest that inflammation affects the body in many ways. Research conducted by the AAP and the Mayo Clinic has found a link between periodontal disease and the following health concerns:
- Difficulty regulating blood sugar levels
- Coronary artery disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Respiratory disease
Ways to Prevent Gum Disease
Practicing good oral hygiene at home is one of the simplest things you can do to prevent gum disease and gingivitis. Daily brushing and flossing clean the surface of your teeth and remove harmful plaque before it can cause irritation and inflammation. Your dentist can recommend a mouthwash to eliminate bacteria and food particles that are hard to reach with brushing and flossing alone. To further protect the health of your teeth and gums, you should avoid smoking and eat a healthy diet.
Seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and professional exams is also a crucial component of good oral health. Most patients should see their dentist approximately every six months, but some people may need more frequent visits. You may need to come to the office more often if you’re a regular smoker, have a dry mouth, or have any other risk factors for gingivitis.
If you develop gingivitis, it can be reversed and successfully treated when discovered early. For mild cases of gingivitis, most patients only need a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from between the teeth and above the gums. Home maintenance is also important, so you’ll need to brush and floss on a daily basis.
If gingivitis and gum disease progress, you can develop a severe gum infection known as periodontitis. When this occurs, a non-surgical treatment called scaling and root planing is required to stop the progression of the disease. The treatment is performed with special dental tools that are used to clear away plaque, tartar, and bacteria while also smoothing any rough surfaces from the tooth roots. This makes it easier for the gum tissue to reattach to the teeth and also discourages further development of plaque and bacteria.
Preventing gingivitis and gum disease is one of the most helpful things you can do for your oral health. When you come into our office for a checkup, you can be sure that our dentists will carefully examine the health of your teeth and gums. If you do have gingivitis, we’ll work with you to design a treatment plan that restores the health of your mouth as soon as possible.